Post-game notes & quotes courtesy of the NYR:
Rangers 2, Sabres 1.
– The Rangers defeated the Buffalo Sabres, 2-1, tonight at Madison Square Garden in the final home game of the regular season. With the win, and Philadelphia’s regulation loss, the Rangers clinch second place in the Metropolitan Division, and home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
– The Blueshirts are now 45-31-5 overall (95 pts), including a 20-17-4 (44 pts) record at home this season. New York is now 10-3-1 in the last 14 games, including a 9-2-1 record in the last 12 contests.
– The Rangers have now won 45 games in a season seven times in franchise history, including twice in the last three seasons. The last time the Blueshirts posted at least 45 victories twice in a three-season span was from 1991-92 to 1993-94 (50 wins in 1991-92, 52 wins in 1993-94).
– The Rangers allowed two goals or fewer for the 48th time this season, and one goal or fewer for the 30th time. New York has posted a 38-10-0 record when allowing two or fewer goals this season, including a 28-2-0 record when allowing one or fewer goals. The Blueshirts have allowed two goals or fewer in 17 of their last 23 home games, giving up 43 goals over the span (1.87 goals against per game).
– New York won all three contests against the Sabres this season, outscoring Buffalo, 7-2, in the three games. The Rangers are 8-2-0 in their last 10 games against the Sabres, dating back to a 4-1 victory on Dec. 10, 2011. The Blueshirts swept the season series against Buffalo for the first time since the 2007-08 season.
– The Rangers outshot the Sabres, 18-1, in the second period. The one shot on goal against was the fewest the Blueshirts have allowed in one period this season. New York has outscored its opponents, 22-7, in the second period over the last 14 games, and has outshot opponents, 184-141, during the middle frame over the stretch. This season, the Rangers have outscored their opponents, 78-71, and have outshot opponents, 1,012-787.
– The Blueshirts’ penalty kill was 2-2 (4:00) in the game. New York hasn’t allowed a power play goal in each of the last six games (13 times shorthanded), and is 45-48 (93.8%) with seven shorthanded goals in the last 19 games.
– Henrik Lundqvist made 23 saves to improve to 33-24-5 on the season, including a 16-14-4 mark at home. The Rangers goaltender is 8-2-1 with a 1.89 GAA, a .935 SV%, and one shutout in his last 11 games, and has posted an 11-4-1 record with a 1.81 GAA, a .939 SV%, and two shutouts in his last 16 games. The Rangers’ all-time wins leader posted a 3-0-0 record, along with a 0.67 GAA, and a .975 SV% in three contests against the Sabres this season.
– Rick Nash registered the game-winning goal, and had four shots on goal in 16:42 of ice time. Nash’s goal was his team-leading ninth game-winning tally of the season, and was the second time he tallied the game-winner with less than two minutes remaining in regulation (Jan. 10 vs. Dallas, 18:02 of the third period). The Rangers forward leads the team in goals (26) and game-winning goals this season, and the Blueshirts are 16-4-1 when he records a goal.
– Benoit Pouliot tallied a goal, and recorded three shots on goal in 15:48 of ice time. The Rangers forward extended his point streak to seven games (three goals, four assists over the span), and he has nine points (three goals, six assists) in his last nine games. The seven-game point streak is Pouliot’s second of the season (Dec. 15 – Dec. 29), and ties his career-high. Pouliot’s 15 goals this season are one shy of his career-high, and his 36 points are a career-high.
– Mats Zuccarello registered the primary assist on Benoit Pouliot’s goal, and recorded three shots on goal in 18:08 of ice time. The Rangers forward extended his point streak to six games (four goals, five assists over the span), and he has 24 points (six goals, 18 assists) in his last 24 games. Zuccarello has tallied a point in 42 of his last 69 games, recording 59 points (19 goals, 40 assists) over the span. The assist was Zuccarello’s 40th of the season, marking the first time he has reached 40 assists in one season in his NHL career. The Blueshirts are 31-8-3 when Zuccarello records a point this season. Zuccarello is leads the team in points (59) and is tied for the team lead in assists this season.
– Derick Brassard recorded an assist on Benoit Pouliot’s goal, and won nine of 16 faceoffs (56%) in 16:31 of ice time. Brassard has tallied a point in seven of his last 12 games, registering nine points (five goals, four assists) over the span.
– Martin St. Louis tallied the primary assist on Rick Nash’s game-winning goal. The Rangers forward has recorded four assists in his last two games, and has registered 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in his last 13 games against the Sabres.
– Derek Stepan recorded an assist and won 14 of 20 faceoffs (70%) in 16:53 of ice time. The Rangers forward has 22 points (seven goals, 15 assists) in the last 22 games. Stepan’s assist was his 40th of the season, marking the first time he has reached that plateau in his career. Stepan is tied for the team lead in assists and ranks second in points (57) this season.
Alain Vigneault on tonight’s game… “For some reason it took us a while to get our legs and that’s when the goaltender needs to come up big. That’s what Hank (Henrik Lundqvist) did, permitted us to stay in the game, find a way to come back and win the game.”
Henrik Lundqvist on tonight’s game… “We showed some patience, it’s not an easy game. It felt like they came out pretty good, but after that they were just waiting for something good to happen to them and we took over the game. But it was definitely a tough one to just get going. The energy wasn’t really there. It felt like they were trying to slow down the game a little bit, but again, the big thing here is to stay patient and don’t start taking chances because we are a good enough team to create our chances without taking any. We did a good job with that, and in the end we came out with some big plays and some big kills on the PK and that final goal was just a beauty.”
Benoit Pouliot on his line… “Zucc (Mats Zuccarello) and Brass (Derick Brassard) do a lot of work. They spread the play out pretty good and I just have to get somewhere and find a place. They are playing well. We are tic-tac-toeing in their zone, we should shoot a little bit more but things are going pretty well.”
Photo by Getty Images.